Exit Of Black Stars From AFCON 2019

The Senior National Football Team, The Black Stars, was woefully and unexpectedly eliminated from the on-going edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON on Monday. They were smashed by Tunisia, on 5-4 penalty shoot-out after a one all draw game at full time. Ghana has won the AFCON on four occasions, first in 1963 when the Black Starts met Sudan in the finals and won by 3 goals to nil on 1st December, 1963, in Accra. The Stars then produced another splendid performance during the next tournament in 1965, which saw them beating Tunisia by 3 goals to 2 on 21st November 1965. Ghana, for the records, has also come up as runners-up five times in 1968, 1970, 1992, 2010 and 2015.
For 37 years, the nation has not had the feel of the most prestigious soccer trophy of the continent. This is against the backdrop of the huge resources that is pumped into the preparation and participation in AFCON tournaments. After winning the trophy on its first appearance and subsequently winning the second time during the very next event, it appeared Ghana was going to dominate the African football arena but it was just a beautiful desire that never materialised. Frankly, the Black Stars have been bedevilled with protracted ill sentiments from citizens. The politicians, football managers, the media, opinion leaders, among others are creating problems for the team. There is so much, sycophancy, boot-licking, nepotism, unnecessary arrogance, pride and fear especially among the leadership of the Black Stars.
Football administration appears to be worsening day by day in recent times. The Ghana Football Association, GFA is the oldest football association in Africa, founded in 1920 far before the independence of the country but has achieved just marginal. For the past 37 years when the trophy eluded Ghana and the shambolic appearances in some world cup events, there have been several opinions about what went wrong and what appeared to be right. Paramount in the public sphere has been ineffective leadership. Leadership issues by way of captaincy and coaching in particular have been our bane.
In a couple of events coaches have been sacked and branded as incompetent. Coaching and captaincy issues, as a matter of fact have caused Ghana in terms of trophies. The present Coach, Kwasi Appiah did not learn any lesson from this when he made a similar grievous mistake of stripping of the captaincy from the renowned Asamoah Gyan to Andre Ayew, one of the sons of Abedi Pele. This time round, there was no issue with preparation in terms of budget and logistics. The government we were told made all the necessary logistics and remuneration available before the team’s departure to Dubai for pre-tournament tour. Huge appearance fees were paid even to those six players who could not make it to the 23-man squad.
It has been revealed that 30 thousand dollars was paid to each of the players for qualifying. The first gentleman of the nation hosted the team to encourage and honour all forms of request they made to him. Above all he flew to their base in Egypt, fraternised, supported, encourage and watched their first group match. What again? For how long can we as a country continue to throw hard-earned recourses into the drain? Many a Ghanaian would agree with the former captain of the team, Asamoah Gyan on his comments that the players “must take responsibility for their round of 16 exit from the AFCON in Egypt.” For the so-called Nominalisation Committee, the least said about it, the better. For Ghana, the most prestigious football event is over.
The players have taken their huge pay cheques but sadly disappointed the entire nation. Where do we as a nation go from here? Can we critically look at our football administration and management, coaching and captaincy as well as support and preparation towards AFCON 2021? Ghanaians are severely disappointed that the Black Stars could not shine to end the 37-year trophy drought. Our next attempt must bring glory. Stars are said to be astronomical objects consisting of luminous spheroid of plasma held together by their own gravity. Our Black Stars must be seen and acknowledge as such.
BY NANA SIFA TWUM, A COMMUNICATION CONSULTANT IN LONDON, UK

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